Microsoft Office 365 is such a broad and pervasive solution, that we’re still approached by people asking, ‘What exactly is it? Where does it start and where does it finish?’ And it’s a great question, because unless you understand that Office 365 can be whatever you need it to be, your business won’t be able to gain the most value from its implementation.
Office 365 is all the applications you already know and love, along with all the new applications your business increasingly needs. Every service backs into the cloud and the various components of Office 365 are either delivered as installations on your devices, or accessible through a web browser. Office 365 becomes your virtual server for all these services, ensuring everything between your devices is always synced and up-to-date, wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing. This means that you’re always able to work and collaborate in real time; licensing and budgeting are easier to manage, because you simply pay a per-user, per-month amount; and because everything is delivered through the cloud, there’s no more need for manual updates.
So to summarise, Office 365 delivers everything your business needs to be ever more productive and efficient, in a mobile-first, cloud-first – and increasingly security-first – world.
But how do you go about ensuring that it does actually give you everything you need, and deliver genuine business value?
Get ready for Office 365 by assessing your requirements
You can’t look upon your Office 365 implementation as a single action or project. You need to see it as a series of events that require different levels of planning – from the most basic online purchase and activation, to the more complex, sophisticated or ‘integrated’ projects. And the more the implementation scales towards the latter, the more critical it becomes for you to develop an ‘Adoption Plan’. More on this later.
Microsoft Office 365 still features all the everyday essentials, like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. But with the need for more real time collaboration, you’ll probably also need Skype for Business, Chat and Yammer from the start.
These business essentials, or basics, can be installed and used from day one. And, if you’re doing your implementation with XCentral, you’ll receive full support from our Managed Services team, also from day one.
Then with the essentials in place, your business can move on to deciding which of the more complex or integrated O365 services your business needs. And it’s at this point that O365 turns into a bespoke or tailored implementation.
This end of O365 features services like SharePoint, Delve and Sway. But within this more complex group you’d also be considering the use of Azure and the Enterprise Mobility Suite, because it’s through the Azure Active Directory, Azure Rights Management and Intune that you can develop the most robust data protection and security policy.
In my previous blog: ‘Mobility Security and the EMS’ I explained that with Office 365 built on Azure Active Directory and the EMS, you can control access to any service from any device, and get full visibility and insight into where and how your data is being used, and by whom. So deciding who does and doesn’t need access to which Office 365 service or app is a critical part of your Adoption Plan.
Then in the longer term you can start to extend your Adoption Plan into the extended family of Microsoft products, which includes services like Office 365 Planner, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and Microsoft Power BI.
Power BI enables you to make the most of your data by using the new data discovery and analysis features in Excel (i.e. in an easy to use environment that you’re already familiar with). You can then apply this knowledge to the way you develop relationships with, and deliver experiences to, your customers and prospects through CRM Online. Office 365 Planner then makes it easy for your team to create new plans, organize and assign tasks, share files, chat about what you’re working on, and get updates on progress. It can be used to manage a marketing event or brainstorm a new product development program. So, the entire Office 365 (and extended service offering) becomes embedded in your day-to-day business operations.
Mapping out exactly how you’re going to integrate or embed these processes into your business structure will require detailed planning. But it will be made easier and more effective when you engage with a team of experts. And, again, you can find this expertise at XCentral.
So when you start thinking about what you need from your Office 365 implementation, think about it in terms of immediate, medium and longer term. Your immediate needs, like the basic productivity apps, can be met pretty-much on day one, and they’ll have immediate support. But the more complex medium and longer-term needs will require more planning and ongoing support. But at each stage, you can talk to XCentral and we’ll provide the guidance you need.
Ensuring your Office 365 implementation meets your business needs
Before you start any actual implementation, XCentral can work with you to develop your Adoption Journey so you can set your Adoption Plan. We use FastTrack to ensure the implementation and adoption of Office 365 happens according to your Adoption Plan, and it happens as quickly as possible. FastTrack supports our Adoption Plan because it allows you to discover what’s possible, plan for successful rollouts, and on-board new users and capabilities at your own pace.
Through XCentral, you can access best practices, tools, resources, and experts committed to make your experience with the Microsoft Cloud a success. We’ll help you build tailored success plans, including technical implementation and user adoption strategies across the entire Office 365 application suite – from the Enterprise Mobility Suite, through Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, SharePoint, Skype for Business and all other essentials your business needs.
The Adoption Plan – step-by-step
The first stage of the Adoption Plan requires assessment of your existing infrastructure, running health checks and risk assessment programs, and creating the building blocks for a successful business outcome.
Depending on the complexity of the Office 365 solution we implement for you, there may be the requirement for education. So we use a range of education tools and forums to ensure your team has all the information it needs to manage and optimise your environment.
There’s also the question of ‘peace of mind’, so we offer the assurance you need to ensure the solution you end up with will continue to meet your business requirements well into the future.
XCentral’s award-winning Management Services team are able to support the different levels of your Office 365 service implementation. For example, simple Email, Chat or Skype issues are looked after through Desktop Support; whereas more complex issues, like Active Directory account creation and password management, or the development of security groups, is covered by our Identity Management and Access Control service. Infrastructure Server Support looks after CRM and SharePoint moves adds and changes and all Azure environment support.
So, the point is, as the complexity of your requirements increase, our managed services respond accordingly.
Enjoy a free one-on-one session at the Microsoft Store to see how it all comes together
To show you how your Adoption Plan might work, and to explain how it can be used to gain the most business value from your Office 365 implementation, contact us directly. We’ll arrange for a short one-on-one demonstration at the Microsoft Store – Westfield Sydney, on Pitt Street Mall.
We’ll show you how Office 365 delivers everything your business needs to be ever more productive and efficient, in a mobile-first, cloud-first – and increasingly security-first– world. We’ll also set the ball rolling for the development of your own Adoption Plan, using FastTrack, to ensure you start enjoying the full business value, as quickly as possible.